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Networking Coffee Dates are a Waste of Time

Coffee Date“I am so frustrated! What is wrong with the people in this town? The networking coffee dates I’m doing are such a waste of time!”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this sentiment from clients and colleagues over the years. People have written blogs venting their frustration and some have vowed never to go on the customary ‘let’s get acquainted’ coffee date ever again.

I have always found the blame game to be an interesting human concept. The concept in which, some human beings blame the cause of their frustration, suffering and lack of success on someone or something external to them.

As a case in point, I received this email (excerpt) from a business owner in my network:

“I am a little bit discouraged with the things that I see in the community. It is not very good place for connecting with others and getting to know each other. People seem to be interested in just selling themselves.”

The underlying message is, “the place and the people are no good”.

There is actually no such thing as a place or a person being good or bad – it just is. Human beings determine whether something is good or bad as a result of the judgment they place on it. A judgment that is based on what they believe.

I don’t believe that we are victims of our circumstance. As somebody who has lived her entire life overcoming hurdles and challenges, I know this to be true first hand. If I had accepted my lot in life, I would be hiding from the world and living a very isolated life of pain and suffering. Instead, I made a choice to take back control of my life and as a result, it was a game-changing decision.

No matter how challenging the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we always have a choice. A choice about how we respond, mindfully; which is different from reacting based on our automatic programming.

We can choose to empower ourselves to see another perspective and create something different, or we can disempower ourselves and become a powerless victim of our situation – and complain about it.

Going back to the business owner and her email to me…

I was curious about her choice of words, so I reached out to have a conversation with her. I wanted to understand what was really going on, so that I could provide her with some insight and tips for creating success for herself.

What I discovered from our phone call was that she was networking and having coffee dates to get to know people better. In doing so, she felt like people weren’t very interested in knowing more about her or even working with her, they were talking about themselves a lot and trying to sell her their services.

This was our dialogue,

Me: “When you schedule your coffee date with people, are you clear about what the nature of the conversation is going to be?”
Her: “No.”

Me: “Do you establish an agenda for the meeting?”
Her: “No.”

Me: “Do you lead the conversation and lay out why you are meeting, the intended outcome and how the conversation is going to flow in terms of taking turns to share about your businesses and how you can support one another?”
Her: “No.”

Me: “When you feel that the conversation is moving in a direction that doesn’t feel comfortable to you, do you speak up about it?”
Her: “No.”

Me: “Okay. So let’s recap. You are scheduling a meeting with a potential prospect without having a clear agenda and without leading the discussion. You are disappointed with the results and conclude that the person you are meeting with and the place you are meeting them is not good.”
Her: “Well… yes, I guess.”

Here’s the heartbreaking news…I see this kind of self-sabotage a lot. This is but one tiny example of how developing good self-leadership can support you well on your road to success.

Here are 3 tips for claiming your own empowerment when communicating with others (on the coffee date and beyond!):

  1. Take the lead. If you don’t step up and take the lead, somebody else will and you may not like where they’re taking you.
  2. Establish clear expectations. Discuss your intentions and expected outcomes. These are two crucial goal posts that will help you navigate the conversation in the right direction.
  3. Create an agenda. Be clear about what is important to both parties, to ensure that you are co-creating your experience and are both being heard.

The next time you evaluate your networking initiatives, rather than assuming it’s the tactic that doesn’t work, I invite you to decipher the real reason behind why things aren’t working out exactly as you’d hoped. Is it the right tool for the job? Are you executing it correctly? What needs to be adjusted? How do you need to show up differently?

If you are simply unsure about how to get better results from your networking, I invite you to reach out to me. We’ll jump on a call and I’ll help you diagnose the gaps in your sales process and lay out your next best steps for creating the success you desire. Business development isn’t rocket science. But if you know the levers to pull and the buttons to push – in the right order, it becomes a whole lot easier to reach your desired outcome. Let me be your navigator and your short cut to achieve predictable success – faster, and with a whole lot more ease.

 

About Michela Quilici

Michela QuiliciMichela Quilici is a business growth and marketing expert who empowers service professionals to authentically market and strategically grow their business with purpose. “Business Navigator” is Michela's middle name. She loves guiding mission-driven Entrepreneurs to create success, while building a business aligned to who they are.

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